As an indication that the rail industry is truly on the rebound, analysts have been awaiting the return of stored freight cars and locomotives to service. That is now happening.
Norfolk Southern is reported to have returned to duty approximately 9,500 of the 35,000 freight cars previously in storage, along with about 200 of 700 idled locomotives. This has happened gradually in recent weeks and leaves about one-fourth of the railroad's total freight carfleet and around 14% of its motive power in storage.
Rising traffic demands have also led Union Pacific to bring back on line an undisclosed portion of its stored rolling stock.
All major Class I chief executives commented in announcing second-quarter results that the recession appeared to have bottomed out. The year-over-year percentage decline in traffic, which at one time was in the mid-20s, has recently been in the upper teens.